Posts Tagged ‘Otis Dooda’

DHSpotlightI was first introduced to David Heatley’s work when I saw the book trailer for Otis Dooda by Ellen Potter. When I found out that David had also created the catchy tune I knew I had to introduce this talented musician/illustrator to our readers.
David Heatley is an artist and musician living in Queens, NY with his wife and two children. His drawings have appeared in numerous books and publications and on websites throughout the world, including: NIckelodeon MagazineThe New YorkerThe New York TimesBest American Comics andMcSweeney’s. Otis Dooda is his first book for children. When he’s done drawing for the night, he can be found playing and recording music around New York City. He is the co-founder of Dream Puppy, a record label that will release the soundtrack to Otis Dooda: Strange But True at the end of June.

Illustrator Spotlight:

WOTS: Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

DH: I’m always working on 20 different things at any given time—TV show ideas, new songs, music videos, etc. Most are not at the stage where I can mention anything. But I can certainly tell you about drawing Otis Dooda 2: Downright Dangerous. I’m having a blast! I’m also planning a video for Potted Plant Guy which I hope will be done by some time in July.


WOTS: What artists do you look up to, and how have they inspired your work?

DH: In the kids’ book world, my heroes are Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, Roger Hargreaves, Clement Hurd. Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is also a big inspiration. He’s someone who did so much with so little space. These scratchy little doodles, which were as natural for him to draw as his own handwriting, added up to a whole world of personalities and emotions and became a truly great work of art. Towering above them all for me is Jim Henson. He left a massive impact on the world and as far as I can tell is universally loved. I think what they all have in common is that they gave so much more than whatever was asked for on each project they did. You can tell if an artist is just “phoning it in” and doing a job or if they’re a little bit crazy—irrationally pouring everything they’ve got into a book or a TV show out of some personal need. I like the crazy ones.


WOTS: Describe your studio or usual work space for us.

DH: I can walk to my studio from my home in Queens. The pre-war buildings and tree-lined streets gradually giving way to dingy auto repair shops and a stretch of industrial buildings. Inside one is an immaculate and ornate hindu temple. Another is a poultry slaughter house. The business that we’re directly above does “Hood and Duct Cleaning.” I love the weirdness of it all. An enterprising neighborhood artist friend of mine organized the space so a dozen of us could have reasonably-priced studios that weren’t in danger of being converted into luxury lofts any minute. We’re in a converted office space, so there’s AC and heat (something the last two studios of mine were sorely lacking). It’s quiet. I’m the only one there some days. My studio mate Helen is there about the half the time that I am. She does prop styling for magazine and silkscreen prints of her drawings. We chat a little and catch up and then listen to NPR and work quietly. I have a nook that I built myself with a curved wall partially covered by soundproofing foam. There’s a drafting table across from a long wooden computer desk which I built for myself. In this cozy little space, I can draw, scan, print, create animations, videos, websites and record music. I can hardly believe what I’m able to make happen there sometimes. In the shared space, we have some rolling industrial tables for spreading out and doing larger projects (Helen once filled the whole space with spray-painted pumpkins for a magazine shoot). In the far corner is my band saw and other woodworking tools. As someone who literally worked in the closet of our apartment when my children were first born, this space feels like a dream come true!


WOTS: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

DH: Hmm… That’s tricky since I’ve spent my whole life trying to listen to my heart and have it guide me to the kind of work I most wanted to do. I’m not sure I’d be satisfied with anything that doesn’t involve drawing, singing and playing most of the day. That said, I’d love to teach some more. My ideal scenario would be to teach kids for a few hours every month. I love kids, but can only handle small groups of them or large groups very infrequently.


WOTS: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

DH: I like to rap and breakdance.


WOTS: Which do you prefer more, your musical work or art?

DH: Another tough one. Art is soothing and solitary, but borders on loneliness. I can’t do it for very long without going nuts. The ideal is to be drawing while surrounded by people who know to leave you alone. 🙂 Music is social and collaborative and definitely more fun. But I’m an introvert and take in people’s personalities pretty deeply, so I can only take so much of that, too. I like having both to run to when I’m had my fill of one or the other.


WOTS: We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?

DH: I’m super proactive and have no problem being self-directed and getting stuff done—sometimes a little behind schedule, but usually not by much. That said, I do believe that creativity flowers when you feel free enough to waste some of your time doing frivolous things. So there’s plenty of Facebooking, watching Netflix, playing with Legos and drawing with sidewalk chalk at the park. I’ve notice that right now there’s all these studies being heralded in the business world saying that “play” is the key to true innovation. I could’ve told them that… I’ve known it for years!

WOTS: Thanks for stopping by to visit.

If you’d like to learn more about David and his art or Otis Dooda please check out the links below.

Happy drawing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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9781250011763Thank you to all the enthusiastic participants for our Character Spotlight and Book Giveaway for Otis Dooda! According to random.org generator… Congratulations go out to Marcie Wessels.

HappyotisMarcie will be receiving her very own signed copy of Otis Dooda.

For those of you who didn’t win, there is still time to enter to win a signed copy of SYLO by DJ MacHale.

Happy Reading,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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9781250011763There is still time to enter to win a signed copy of Otis Dooda by Ellen Potter illustrated by David Heatley. Simply click this link and leave a comment. Winner will be picked at random on Thursday, June 13,2013.

Good Luck.

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9781250011763This week marks the release of a great new book Otis Dooda written by Ellen Potter and illustrated by David Heatley. This is a fun book filled with great humor especially for boys. On this extra- special Friday bonus post I thought I’d give our readers a chance to meet a few of the characters behind the story.

Title: Otis Dooda (Feiwel & Friends 2013)
Author: Ellen Potter
Illustrator: David Heatley

Book Description:


Meet Otis Dooda. Yes, that’s his name. Go on and have a good laugh. He’s heard it all before. He’s been called things like Otis Poopy Stink and Otis Toilet Twinkie. That’s right, yuck it up and get it out of your system. We’ll wait.

All right then. This is the story of Otis and the Dooda family (including their rat named Smoochie) moving to New York City, and the incredibly strange, but true, things that happened to them. It all started with Otis getting cursed by a guy in a potted plant in their apartment building lobby, and then meeting a bunch of their neighbors, including a farting pony named Peaches who was disguised as a dog. And that was just the first day.

Character Spotlight

Character name: Otis DoodaHappyotis

Brief physical description:

Not to be rude, but his body is shaped like a Twizzler. Super skinny, very bendy. His toenails haven’t been clipped in a while so let’s not talk about that. Once, this girl said that he looked like the kid from the Home Alone movie. Then she asked him if he thought she looked like Selena Gomez. He said no, and she said, “Fine, then you don’t look like the Home Alone kid.”

He has very good teeth.


He is a Lego-genius. I mean it, this guy can solve any problem with some Lego bricks and a rubber band.


He’s got this phobia about subway zombies. Don’t ask. Plus he’s pretty terrified of Potted Plant Guy.



Character name: Potted Plant Guy PottedPlanGuy


Brief Physical Description:

Well, it’s going to be VERY brief, because no one has ever actually seen his face. He hides in a potted plant in the lobby of the Tidwell Towers apartment building. You can see his eyes though, and they are pure evil.


He has the ability to put curses on people who walk into the building. The curses always come true, too, though not in the way that you think they will.


We’re still trying to find out what they are.


Inspiration for your story

I noticed that my 7-year-old son was reading books for middle-graders. It wasn’t because he was an advanced reader either. He said he just liked those books better than most of the ones for his age group. Come to find out, a lot of his friends were reading those same middle-grade books too. Curious, I also read them. I could see the attraction. They were wry and subversive, and they made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. The only problem was, they were dealing with middle-grade issues—crushes on girls, being popular, and other things that six- and seven-year old boys could give a hoot about. So I thought, what if a writer kept that tone but wrote about things that a seven-year-old did care about? Like Legos and ninjas and zombie tag.

Background for the story

While I was developing the character of Otis, I kept imagining him to be like Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye . . .  if Holden were in the third grade. He’d be highly observant, dry, sometimes snarky, He’d also probably be obsessed with Legos, like every other third-grade boy I knew. The other thing I kept thinking about was Seinfeld. What if I created a series set in an apartment building? What if there were a core group of characters with big, quirky personalities? They bickered, yes, but they also had each other’s backs when things got hairy. And things would get hairy all the time.

Researching this book was a cinch. All I had to do was listen. I listened to the stories my son told me about the kids in school. I listened to the things that made him and his buddies laugh. I listened to backseat conversations and lunchroom arguments. And of course I listened to fart jokes. Lots and lots of fart jokes.

So What About the Giveaway?

We will be giving away a signed copy of Otis Dooda to one of our lucky readers. Simply post a comment below and we will be picking a winner at random on Thursday June 13, 2013 . Entries must be posted by midnight on Wednesday to be entered into the contest.

Good Luck and Happy Reading,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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